Lisa Smith tells her story onstage at Unsound 2017.
Unsound 2017 was the first stop on Lisa Smith's first European tour. As career milestones go, this one was long overdue: by the time of the festival last October, Smith had already been an underground phenomenon for some two decades in the US, first as DJ Shiva, more recently as Noncompliant. And while she may have been a newcomer at Unsound, there was no mistaking her for a novice. At Hotel Forum, where she took the final slot in the main room on the Friday night, she tore through two hours of lethal techno with a rapid-fire mixing technique honed at underground raves across the Midwest. On a panel called "Technoactivism" earlier that week, she was visibly in her element, trading insights and war stories with artists like Umfang, Nazira and Jlin.
At another conference event, some 12 hours before her Friday night set, Smith got a chance to tell her story in full. Tracing her path from the barn raves of Indiana to the main stage of Unsound, she was as sage as she was laid-back, cracking wise one minute and dropping hard truths the next, reflecting on her past and pondering her future in this Live Exchange with Will Lynch.